Sunday, 2014Jan19 Lectionary Texts:
“Come and See”
Isaiah 49:1-7, NRSV
1Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. 2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” 4But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” 5And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
7Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Psalm 40:1-11, NRSV
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
3He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
4Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.
5You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.
6Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
7Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
9I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
10I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
11Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
12For evils have encompassed me without number; my iniquities have overtaken me, until I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.
13Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9, NRSV
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
John 1:29-42, NRSV
29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Hearing God’s Call
After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 587 BCE, the Jews struggled to know their divine identity and purpose. The center of worship and national identity was gone. How would they understand their mission in the world?
The servant passages from Second Isaiah offered an option. Exile and temple destruction took Israel into the midst of new peoples and nations. The faith of Abraham and Sarah came into conversation with other religions, other languages and cultures. Israel came to see their role as a light to the nations, a people sharing God’s steadfast love and salvation wherever they happened to be dispersed.
Psalm 40, “Thanksgiving for deliverance and prayer for help” is a celebration of the God of steadfast love and faithfulness even when it seems like God is distant.
The calling of Peter is the main point of the Matthew text, a significant event in the gospel story. Peter represents the Jerusalem Christians turning to the way of Jesus.
Paul’s self-description in I Corinthians – “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus…” – brings the journey of the Christian movement out of Jerusalem and circles back to the servant song in Isaiah. The Apostle Paul was a missionary to the nations.
The season of Epiphany is about the revealing of God’s character in the person of Jesus Christ. How is Christ revealed today? On your journey of life and faith, when has God been most clearly revealed to you? What is your calling? Was there an Andrew in your faith journey that said, “Come and see?” How do your words and actions benefit humankind and witness to the steadfast love and faithfulness of God?
Another sermon title that might work is “What are you looking for”? I like the question Jesus asks. It may be a way to explore a reading of our culture. What are we looking for in life? Relationship? Intimacy? Success? Wealth? Faith? What does our culture tell us to look for? Jesus’ question was not immediately answered by the disciples. It took a journey with Jesus to find what they were looking for.